President Biden Planned to Nominate Anti-Abortion Judge on the Day 'Roe v. Wade' Was Overturned, Emails Show

An administration official wrote to the Kentucky governor’s D.C. office on June 23 that attorney Chad Meredith would be “nominated tomorrow,” though the nomination has still not been announced

BURLINGTON, IA - AUGUST 07: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks about White Nationalism during a campaign press conference on August 7, 2019 in Burlington, Iowa. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty

President Joe Biden planned to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime appointment as a federal district judge in Kentucky on the day the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to emails obtained by multiple media outlets.

On June 23, White House aide Kathleen Marshall, who works in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, wrote to a staffer in Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear's D.C. office about a nomination for attorney Chad Meredith to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

"To be nominated tomorrow: … Stephen Chad Meredith: candidate for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky," Marshall wrote in an email given a subject line that indicated it was not intended to be widely distributed.

"Thanks, Kate. I'll share the info and appreciate the heads up," Coulter Minix, the Beshear staffer, replied, according to reports.

The next day, June 24, the Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that granted women the right to an abortion in every state.

The decision sparked an uproar of public protests and demands for elected Democrats, including the president, to do everything they could to protect abortion rights, which will now be determined at the state level.

Days later, on June 29, Marshall wrote a follow-up email to Minix.

"Sorry for not including this in the original email," she wrote. "But I wanted to clarify that the email I sent was pre-decisional and privileged information. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you. Kate."

Meredith was not included in a list of federal judicial nominations released by the White House last week, making it unclear if Biden still plans to nominate him.

Twice this week White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the nomination.

"We make it a point here to not comment on any — on any vacancy, whether it is on the executive branch or judicial branch, especially those that have not — have not — the nomination has not been made yet," she told reporters traveling on Air Force One Wednesday. "So I don't have anything to say on that. It is something that we just don't comment on."

On Tuesday, she declined to say whether the president would appoint a federal judge who doesn't support abortion rights.

"That's a hypothetical that I can't really speak to," she said during the press briefing.

A member of the conservative Federalist Society who previously served as solicitor general in Kentucky and as a deputy counsel to the state's former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, Meredith defended a 2017 law that required doctors to perform ultrasounds on pregnant women seeking an abortion and to describe the images to patients before they have the procedure, HuffPost reports.

He also represented Gov. Bevin in a lawsuit with Planned Parenthood which argued that his administration violated state law by refusing to issue a license to perform abortions at its Louisville clinic, The Courier-Journal reported in 2019.

The plan to nominate Meredith for a lifetime appointment to a federal bench in Kentucky was criticized by Beshear and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, who are both Democrats.

"If the president makes that nomination," Beshear said last week, "it is indefensible."

Yarmuth accused Biden of making a deal with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky that included Meredith's nomination in exchange for a promise not to hold up any other Biden nominees.

"Given that a judicial position isn't currently open on the Eastern District Court, it's clear that this is part of some larger deal on judicial nominations between the President and Mitch McConnell," Yarmuth said in a statement, according to the Washington Post. "I strongly oppose this deal and Meredith being nominated for the position. That last thing we need is another extremist on the bench."

A spokesperson for McConnell denied there was any agreement.

Beshear's office initially declined to release its email correspondence with the White House about the Meredith nomination. After the The Courier-Journal obtained the first email, the governor's office released it and the follow-up on Tuesday.

The Washington Post and other news organizations obtained the emails Wednesday through a public records request.

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